High Court rules against Dotcom privacy breach

The Herald reports:

The High Court has overturned the Human Rights Review Tribunal’s finding of a breach of privacy in the Dotcom case.

Kim Dotcom made a request in 2015 under the Privacy Act for “every record mentioning him by name held by every government agency and every then-government minister, plus each agency contracted to work with any of those entities”.

The internet mogul claimed the total of 52 requests should be dealt with under urgency because the information was necessary for his upcoming extradition eligibility hearing.

Most of the requests were transferred to the Attorney-General, and were declined on the basis they were “vexatious” and included “trivial” information. Dotcom filed a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner, which was rejected.

He then complained to the Human Rights Review Tribunal, which found it was wrong for the Crown to transfer the requests to the Attorney-General and to refuse the requests.

It awarded Dotcom $90,000 damages, $60,000 for injury to feelings, and $30,000 for loss of a benefit – that being the information that he sought.

But the High Court has found the HRRT was completely wrong. They made several errors including basing the determination of vexatious on the subjective feelings of Dotcom rather than a objective test.

“We find that there was a proper and lawful purpose for the transfer of the requests and that, because of the insistence that all 52 requests were required to be responded to urgently, on the ground that the information sought was relevant to the eligibility proceedings, they were vexatious,” it states.

It also said it would not have upheld the awards of damages for lost benefit and loss of dignity or injury to feelings.

The HRRT decision seemed to be some form of activism. The Privacy Commissioner rejected the complaint, yet the HRRT upheld it and gave a staggering amount of money. Even worse it took them ten days of hearings!

The full judgement is a good read. The HRRT really got it wrong big time.